Perhaps it may be difficult to fully appreciate the miracle in today’s gospel. I have never been without food or hungry for any period of time in my life. It’s very easy to get to a supermarket, open 24 hours a day, with a vast variety of foods available. There seems to be an abundance of food.
In Jesus’ time, having no supermarkets or fast food stores around the corner, most people earned wages that were sufficient for the day’s food only, i.e. they were materially poor. The closest I can relate to this is my parents’ experience of living through the Great Depression. Their value of money, i.e. the way they managed money has been “implanted” in me. Their experience of growing up during the Great Depression affected them for the rest of their life. “Only buy what you need.” “Don’t waste your money.” How many of us have a garage, basement and attic “full” of items we bought, which we either no longer use, used once or even never used? At the time, when we bought those items, perhaps we had the “best” intentions of using them.
While we may have difficulty relating to the “physical” hunger of the people described in today’s gospel, we can relate to their “spiritual” hunger – for God’s love.
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). ( Mt.1:23) This familiar quote that we often hear during the Advent/Christmas season comes to mind when we listen to today’s gospel. Jesus Christ is with us in the Bread of Life. St. Thomas Aquinas called the Eucharist our “security deposit for our coming glory”. St. Ignatius of Loyola called the Eucharist: “the medicine of immortality, the antidote to death, the food that makes us live forever in Jesus Christ.”
Saint Pope John Paul II when speaking to the Scottish youth in 1982 about this gospel said: “The boy gave all he had and Jesus miraculously fed 5000 people…It is exactly the same with your lives…Place your lives in the hands of Jesus.
He will accept and bless you, and he will make use of your lives in a way that exceeds your greatest expectations.” Should we not do the same?
May God bless us all always!